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Bounties: A Look at the Wild West of Android Development

Posted by wicked November - 25 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off


Bounties are a popular way for users to put their money where their mouth is when asking developers to tackle some problem. Usually, bounties are aimed towards acquiring root access, but some bounties have been set up to get T-Mobile WiFi calling to work on the Nexus 4 while others have been set up to port Android Wear to Samsung Gear smartwatches.

As long as there is enough community interest in achieving some device-specific goal, you can expect to see people banding together to pledge their money in hopes of attracting developers to reach the bounty’s goal. If you’ve ever participated in a bounty on XDA, then you’re probably aware that the entire effort is completely handled by volunteers. Users are free to create bounty threads for whatever goal they want to achieve, but there are many potential issues that arise from how the bounty is organized to how the payment is distributed that leaves a gray area too murky to handle. Considering how many logistical hurdles and scam possibilities there are when setting up a bounty, it’s incredible that so many have been successful.

Wanted: Root Exploit

It’s up to the users to decide whether or not they want to invest in a bounty prize pool. The financial incentive users create can help drive developers to invest their time and effort into reaching the goal, and gives users a direct way to contribute to developer efforts rather than merely begging. Looking at the outcomes of many high-profile bounties makes it easy to assume that supporting the use of bounties is a no brainer.

Bounty Chart

Table of Successful Bounties with Pledges Over $1,000

But when you take a look at the full data (at least, for all the bounties I could find on XDA) things get a bit more complicated. For starters, you’ll notice that many bounties have been left unclaimed and that most fulfilled bounties are for popular flagship devices. Neither of these observations should be surprising, though, given that most development efforts are already disproportionately seen on the most popular devices anyways. The most striking thing about the data is the fact that there is so much missing data! Proper logistics is the single biggest hurdle that any community-led bounty effort must overcome, without which many potential issues can arise.

Lawless Territory

Just about every player in the bounty process can introduce a headache for any bounty efforts. I’ll start by describing the most common issues stemming from the regular users.

First of all, a pledge does not in any way guarantee that they will actually pay the developer once the bounty has been claimed. Some users can back out of paying the developer for whatever reason. Now, there are, understandably, some legitimate reasons one might need to pull out of the bounty fund, but if many users do so, the effects on the prize pool can be dramatic. For example, less than half of the bounty pledged for root access on the LG G4 was actually paid out to the developer. Some might say that developers were never guaranteed payment for their work, and they’re right — however, developers are less likely to take the effort seriously if the users themselves aren’t going to. If you’re not putting your money where your mouth is, why should the developers listen to your request?

Another issue with pledges is that we have no way of determining whether or not a pledge was ever sincere. In many of the high-profile bounty threads, you’ll see pledges that are hundreds of dollars! It makes you wonder why someone would pledge to shell out so much money when their device is barely worth more than the actual pledge. High pledges do not necessarily mean the user isn’t sincere, however, which can cause a whole heap of issues when users start a flame-war in the XDA thread accusing others of inflating the bounty. Speaking of inflating the bounty, many users in bounty threads bring up a potential issue with developers.

A developer has discovered an exploit that meets the terms set forth by the bounty, but should he claim it immediately? Why not keep it secret to build up the prize pool? Although there is no evidence that this has yet occurred, the possibility should not be tossed aside. As unethical as it might seem, this move does carry with it some risk since another developer can beat them to the punch and claim the bounty before them. Even if a developer holds back on claiming the bounty, as mentioned earlier there’s no guarantee they’ll receive all that’s promised, or that the promised amount is even accurate! Which brings me to my next point, who maintains the bounty?

Bounty threads are an absolute nightmare to keep up with (so kudos to certain community members who have kindly provided templates that we can use). You’ll be searching through posts, PMs, e-mails, or whatever other method you chose to update the bounty list, but sometimes the effort is just too much work to handle for a single person. How do you properly maintain a bounty list while also ensuring every user is a legitimate member of the community that is actually willing to pledge their money?

Let’s say you’re able to keep up with it all, how do you then ensure the developer gets paid? Do you delegate the funds to a single person to distribute? Who can you trust to handle those funds? Even if you do manage to find a trustworthy person willing to manage the bounty funds, you’ll still have to deal with every other problem mentioned earlier. Plus, you may even run into some scammers attempting to claim the bounty for someone else’s work.

Nearly every flagship is sold in international markets, to people of many different countries around the world. Not every developer who uses your favorite flagship phone browses XDA, so some developers working out of China or India might not even be aware of a bounty’s existence. A scammer might try to claim the bounty in these cases by pretending to be the person who found the exploit, and the average user will be none the wiser. It’s up to the community to do their due diligence and ensure that the right person claims credit for their work.

Wild West of Development

To conclude, there’s good evidence to suggest the efficacy of bounties in achieving the goals of an XDA device community based on past experiences. However, the many logistical hurdles that can arise from getting users to cough up the pledges they promised to ensure that the bounty falls into the right hands make bounties difficult to maintain. The community must come together to ensure that the bounty runs smoothly for all involved parties. Thus, we recognize their importance in the community and the developments of various phones.

Have you contributed to a bounty before? Were you satisfied with the results? Let us know in the comments below!

XDA/Android Podcast Episode 7: “820 or Bust?”

Posted by wicked November - 17 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off


The XDA/Android podcast will bring you the best news each week from the perspective of the XDA team, r/android mods, admins and users. Each week you can find our latest episode here, on Youtube, Pocketcasts and on your favorite podcast app through the RSS feed:

In this episode, the podcast team discusses the new Snapdragon and Exynos processors in town, the future of Android Wear and its new gestures, battery solutions in 2015, and a plethora of smaller news!

Today’s cast includes:

Mario Serrafero: Twitter
Daniel Marchena: YouTube
Corey Feiock: Twitter
Anthony Ardizzone: Twitter
TK Bay: YouTube, XDA TV

Check Out XDA on Social Media. Twitter, Facebook and Google+

and don’t forget to pay a visit to r/Android!

Marshmallow Is What Lollipop Should Have Been, but XDA Made Lollipop Better

Posted by wicked November - 9 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off


It’s been around two weeks since I began testing the Nexus 5X for an upcoming review, and while writing the section on software, I couldn’t help but feel that it wouldn’t be able to cover some of the more subjective thoughts I have on Marshmallow.

Therefore, I want to let those thoughts out in an editorial, rather than taint the review with clear subjectivity that not everyone might agree with. The Nexus 5X’s Marshmallow is, so far, the only version of Android 6.0 that I have been able to try out. Considering it’s a Nexus, though, I think it’s a pure-enough version to extrapolate my thoughts on more general terms. It has been a while since Google I/O, but those following us back then might recall some slight disappointment from my part. The reason back then was the fact that Google had emphasized too many Google features during their keynote, but not enough Android ones for my taste. Now it’s important to clarify the distinction: Android features are those built into Android and which are independent of Google features, which rely on Google Services.

tugofwarWe had discussed before how Google was seemingly putting less attention onto the core Android OS, and a bigger focus in their own proprietary services. This is not inherently bad, but I also feel that Marshmallow’s emphasis, and its execution, leave a lot to be desired, and I’d argue that the actual Android (not Google) UX improvements not strong enough to make a substantial difference for power-user use-cases. (assuming said power user would have gone out of his way to optimize and customize).

My first few days with Marshmallow had me try out all the smaller additions thrown in there. I quickly got used to the Nexus 5X and its software, which I find easy and comfortable to use in most instances. Some (very) small bugs and somewhat (inconsistent) performance issues aside, Marshmallow on the 5X is compelling and the user experience it provides is one of the cleanest I’ve found.

Yet my gripe with the update does not come when considering the polish and refinement the OS overtook — that’s clearly a step forward. It comes when I realize that, albeit sleeker and cleaner, the core experience has not changed much from my time with Lollipop on my older Nexus 5. And for a while I was searching for an answer as to why, only to find it in my other phones.

Marshmallow is everything Lollipop should have been, but XDA is future-ready

I want to state that I was always a skeptic of Google Now on Tap, and that while I recognized its potential, I also didn’t think Google would truly pull it off. And in almost every instance I’ve used it, Google Now on Tap has not been very helpful, and certainly not as revolutionary as Google intended and/or promoted it to be. So far, Google Now on Tap has returned results that just aren’t very relevant or useful to me, and I feel that I can get precisely what I want in just a few taps for a few extra seconds. It simply isn’t there for me yet, nor for some of the people I know and discussed this with.

Leaving that “killer feature” aside, and ignoring the other Google bits, Marshmallow is everything Lollipop should have been — and that’s great. But I do believe that is not enough, because Marshmallow has not truly improved my user experience during actual usage, and because it feels like an overdue polishing at a time where the competition is radically improving in software and hardware. The Nexus 5X doesn’t feel much faster than my Nexus 5 did, and certainly not faster than many other phones around my house (although these are matters of hardware as well). I am almost certain that this is because of forced encryption, and the NAND speeds on the Nexus 5X leave a lot to be desired. The battery life while on idle on the Nexus 5X is amazing – when Doze works, it really works – but I still end up draining the phone earlier than I’d like to, and earlier than any other phone in my house, and Doze (unconfigured) does not always lead to great idle drain, particularly when I am constantly going from A to B and checking my phone during the day. Solutions like Power Nap and Amplify have proved just as good on some of my other phones running Lollipop.

better battery

That isn’t Doze, and it’s not running Marshmallow. That’s XDA.

Since I’ve been using the phone exclusively, and trying to figure out each of its nooks and crannies, I’ve noticed that the 5X is not as brilliant a package as the Nexus 5 was, and that I find myself waiting for tasks that should require no waiting. As I alluded to before, performance is not what I expected. The 808 and the storage chosen are likely not fit for encryption, and it makes no sense that a processor more powerful than the Snapdragon 800 of the Nexus 5 delivers (perceivably) slower or inconsistent performance in common operations, just like it made no sense for the Snapdragon 805 of the encrypted Nexus 6 to be outperformed by the same Nexus 5 in day-to-day, real-world use. Moving forward, and as chipsets get better (as does encryption), this might not be an issue, but forced encryption could be an easy way to cripple performance gains or net performance. As it stands, by merely enabling visual representations of touch input in developer settings, one can see that there is a delay between tapping and actions — not consistently, but when it’s there, it’s unmissable.

Marshmallow’s permission system is brilliant, but some people are treating it as a revolutionary feature. I’d say that it’s not something entirely new, just a released version of an unpolished feature Google took from us. First of all, as is the case with so many Marshmallow features, XDA users have had better permission control for a while, with the consequence being a voided warranty. That aside, a hidden App Ops feature came all the way back in Android 4.3 and it had permission toggles that allowed for similar functionality — sadly, it was removed in later versions. So to those of us who have experienced App Ops and any other permission-control alternative, Marshmallow’s re-introduction of the feature feels more like Google taking a candy from us and then giving it back after we bought another one ourselves.

I am a power user, so I turned Lollipop into what it should have been with the help of the amazing developers at XDA

There are other things I appreciate with Marshmallow: the revamped battery and applications menus, for example, are more informational than before. Yet the information is not all too useful, and in my opinion, not as useful as the dedicated apps I personally use to keep logs of battery life, application behavior, and such — some, like GSam Battery Monitor, are extremely popular and easy to use, too.

And this brings me back to the fact that there is little I personally get from Marshmallow that I couldn’t have gotten otherwise, and features like multi-window have been delayed to make room for features that sounded useful in theory but are ultimately flawed in practice.

I like Marshmallow, I really do — as I said before, it’s what Lollipop should have been. But I am a power user, so I turned Lollipop into what it should have been, on multiple phones, with the help of the amazing developers at XDA, or smart use of applications from the Play Store (which anyone can easily get). Marshmallow does not feel too exciting to me, but having a cleaner and more polished base to optimize and customize on is always nice. The ways in which Marshmallow has been cracking down on root could prove troublesome, but there are already steps being made around the constrictions. I already have a custom recovery and root on my Nexus 5X, and that was easy enough. Xposed for Marshmallow is getting closer too, and that may bring even more greatness to this version. Marshmallow is not bad, just overdue, and that’s disappointing to me. But late is better than never, and I know not everyone will share these views.

Regardless of whether you do or don’t, I want to know what you think, so let me know below!

XDA/Android Podcast Episode 6: “The Last Phonebender”

Posted by wicked November - 8 - 2015 - Sunday Comments Off


The XDA/Android podcast will bring you the best news each week from the perspective of the XDA team, r/android mods, admins and users. Each week you can find our latest episode here, on Youtube, Pocketcasts and on your favorite podcast app through the RSS feed:

In today’s podcast, the team compares their new Nexus experiences and findings, discusses the bending non-controversy of the Nexus 6P, and ponders about the future of Google hardware.

Today’s cast includes:

Mario Serrafero: Twitter
Daniel Marchena: YouTube
Corey Feiock: Twitter
Anthony Ardizzone: Twitter
TK Bay: YouTube, XDA TV

Check Out XDA on Social Media. Twitter, Facebook and Google+

and don’t forget to pay a visit to r/Android!

Chainfire cooks up “systemless” Marshmallow root

Posted by wicked October - 31 - 2015 - Saturday Comments Off

This is my Note 3, there are many like it but this one is mine.

Rooting legend Chainfire has released an Android 6.0 root method that doesn’t modify the /system partition. Chainfire emphasizes that this root is highly experimental and probably prone to bugs, but if this experiment is successful, it could make for a much cleaner approach to rooting Android.

There could be many benefits to this new approach. For one, a standard factory reset would remove the root. This is pretty interesting, because currently unrooting a device is a significantly more involved process. Also, this removes the risk of bricking your phone if you use the wrong kernel. Instead of bricking, and incorrect attempt at rooting with an unsupported kernel will simply fail to root the device.  However, if you’re looking to use this root on top of an older one, you’ll naturally need to reflash your stock /system partition before beginning.

Chainfire is, of course, the mastermind behind projects like SuperSu, CF Auto Root, CF.lumen, and TriangleAway. He’s an incredibly seminal developer in the Android modding community and is currently a senior moderator and developer at XDA.

If you’re feeling curious and bold, head over to the XDA forum where Chainfire released this newest idea. However, to keep discussion about the method centralized, Chainfire is requesting that all discussion and experimentation with the new method happen over in the SuperSU Beta forum.

Droidcon UK Tickets Giveaway!

Posted by wicked October - 20 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off


The good people over at Honor have been in touch to say they would like to fund 8 tickets to Droidcon UK next week for you guys! Droidcon the global developer conference series heads to London on the 29th and 30th of this month and Honor and XDA will be there sponsoring the event. 52 experts will be speaking including our very own Community Relations Admin, Jerdog. Tickets currently cost £500 but a lucky few of you can have one for FREE by entering our competition. With 5 rooms each with talks occurring throughout the event there is always going to be something to capture your interest and of course, be sure to stop by at Honor’s and XDA’s areas and say hi!

The full schedule can be found at the Droidcon site

To be in with a chance to win, leave a comment below saying which talk at the event you are most looking forward to seeing, we will then pick 8 of you at random to win tickets! To win, you must be able to travel to London on the days of the event.

Don’t forget to check out both @UKHonor and @xdadevelopers out on Twitter for live coverage during the event!

XDA Premium app now ready for free download

Posted by wicked October - 9 - 2015 - Friday Comments Off

xda premium app now free

XDA is always one of our go-to websites for all things Android. Whenever a particular Android app is missing, you can expect to find a link or an actually copy from fellow XDA members. Just in case you don’t know, an XDA Premium app is available for Android and it’s now FREE! We’re talking about the XDA app that offers quick access to XDA forums and the rest of the community right on mobile.

XDA’s very own app allows you to read threads, reply to comments, and connect with other members and developers. If you’ve been using the free XDA app for the longest time, you can now use the premium features at no extra cost. It may be free now but don’t worry, you won’t see any ads, at least, that’s what we’re expecting.

We’re not sure why the sudden change from Premium at $1.69 to ‘free’ but regular XDA users will see this as good news. The app isn’t exactly perfect and is not updated regularly but it works if you want easy access to XDA website and the forums and see what’s new under the sun for the whole Android community. A lot of devs depend of their fellow geeks especially those who do various rooting, hacking, and tweaking. In XDA, you’re part of a community whose members are generous enough to share their knowledge.

XDA Premium app 7
XDA Premium app 6
XDA Premium app 5
XDA Premium app 4
XDA Premium app 3
XDA Premium app 2
XDA Premium app 1

Download XDA Premium from the Google Play Store

VIA: Reddit

Debloater allows Android user to remove annoying bloatware

Posted by wicked October - 3 - 2015 - Saturday Comments Off

debloater by gatesjunior

Carrier bloat is real. The whole Android community has been fighting against it. Good thing there are phone makers who allow such bloatware to be removed from devices. Even mobile carriers are offering some solution just so consumers won’t get annoyed easily. For some countries like South Korea, there’s even a move by the government to allow consumers to remove bloatware from mobile devices. The latter is a huge effort from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MISP) in the country.

That’s good news for those who live in South Korea but how about those who don’t? Well, there’s the Debloater program by XDA member Gatesjunior. Actually, it’s already the V3.90. What’s good about this is that it lets you remove all carrier bloat without requiring any root.

The ‘Debloater’ isn’t an official solution from Google’s Android team nor it is from a particular brand or carrier. A genius developer created this one so it’s up to you if you want to try the program. As always, use AT YOUR OWN RISK. Be careful when you want to do some modifications or redistributions because Gatesjunior doesn’t allow that without any permission from him.

The only aim of this Debloater is to “block or disable apps on devices through the command line and or shell”. No rooting is required but you need to have and follow a few requirements like access to a Windows Operating System, manufacturer USB drivers installed, Android KitKat or above, and USB Debugging turned on for your device. You can still root the device but it’s really up to you– not required.

Gatesjunior shared a complete list of what the Debloater does:
• Block or Disable applications on your device
• UnBlock or Enable applications on your device
• Allow UnBlock or Enable all applications at once on your device
• Allows filtering of the displayed packages for quicker decision making
• Allows exporting your blocked or unblocked listing to a file (Right click on Read Device Packages after list is loaded)
• Allows importing your blocked, or someone else’s, listing (Right click on Read Device Packages after list is loaded)
• Allows complete removal of application(s) if you have root (It will backup the original folder structure and apk for you, just in case you need to restore the application(s) back to your device.

In summary, this program will simply disable or block a 3rd-party app or system that is not necessary from your device. According to the developer, the Debloater can read everything in real time or directly from a device. No more confusing and messy txt files, scripts, or files to keep track of or maintain.

Download the Debloater from HERE

VIA: XDA Developers

Edit build.prop DHA properties to fix RAM management on Note 5

Posted by wicked September - 8 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

You may be one of the few lucky geeks who got their hands on the new Samsung Galaxy Note 5 phablet but unfortunately, there are some issues on RAM management. It’s not really a biggie but it can certainly be improved if you have root. Thanks to our friends over at XDA Developers who have solutions to almost everything.

While thoroughly reviewing the Note 5, XDA’er Mario Tomás Serrafero discovered that a build.prop edit also works on the device. It’s the same one that helped the Galaxy Note 4 and S6 before but it seems to work better on the latest Note 5 device. If you know how to edit the DHA properties of the build.prop, you’ll see that it works and can improvement system management. It’s not an official fix by Samsung so everyone who’s thinking of using must apply, as we always say, AT THEIR OWN RISK.

Serrafero noted that some apps get kicked out of memory when the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is idle for some time. That’s good news I guess because at least phone memory won’t be used up quickly, fully, and unnecessarily. This fix is expected to allow the smartphone to hold more apps as possible with no system performance issues.

Watch the video below and see for yourself how smooth and fast the Galaxy Note 5 runs after the fix:

SOURCE: XDA Developers

XDA dev able to port Note 5 firmware to Galaxy S6

Posted by wicked August - 18 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

We admit that Android may not be as secure but you know, there’s some beauty to it. Genius hackers can easily do anything they want. Just a few changes in code, some cracking, or rebooting, you can make your mobile device do a certain function or enable a special feature. Just yesterday, we learned that an XDA developer managed to enable Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 on his Sony Xperia Z2. This time, let’s bring more fun to the latest bigger, premium flagship by porting the Galaxy Note 5 firmware to the Galaxy S6.

How is that even possible? Of course, it’s Android and XDA developers are great hackers. For one, arter97, a recognized developer on XDA knew that optimizations and some features on the Galaxy S6 and Note 5 are different. The latest flagship’s software is obviously better and more efficient. Porting the firmware of a new model to an older one resulted to improved performance and better memory management with his ‘back-to-n0t3′ project.

According to arter97, you need a Note 5 firmware ready custom kernel with the ROM, specifically the arter97 kernel 2.2. If you know how to make one or know custom kernel developer, you can apply this one on the Galaxy S6.

The dev even gave us an idea of the usual processes that happen during porting: Debloated, De-KNOXed, Odexed, zipaligned, uncompressed.

Remember that doing all these steps will void the warranty of the Galaxy S6. As we always say with suggestions from XDA, DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK. The XDA member strongly suggested that you do your own research first if you plan on doing this hack. Don’t blame the developer if your modifications and hacking won’t be successful.


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